Dec. 28 (UPI) — The federal government is advising employees who are not getting paid during the shutdown to negotiate their bills with their creditors.
About 420,000 federal employees are required to work without pay during the shutdown, which is likely to continue into the new year next week. The remaining 380,000 will not work and won’t get paid. Typically, these federal employees get back pay at the end of shutdowns, but the reimbursement doesn’t help them cover expenses now.
The Office of Personnel Management tweeted a sample letter Thursday as a guide for furloughed workers to negotiate lower payments during the shutdown, which started Saturday.
“I am a federal employee who has recently been furloughed due to a lack of funding of my agency,” the sample letter reads. “Because of this, my income has been severely cut and I am unable to pay the entire cost of my monthly payments, along with my other expenses.”
The impasse hinges on billions of dollars President Donald Trump wants for a barrier wall along 500 miles of the U.S.-Mexico border. The House approved a funding bill last week that included money for the wall, but the Senate did not.
“We will be forced to close the Southern Border entirely if the Obstructionist Democrats do not give us the money to finish the Wall,” Trump tweeted Friday.
“I would consider closing the Southern Border a ‘profit making operation,'” he continued. “We build a Wall or close the Southern Border. … Either we build (finish) the Wall or we close the Border.”
“We arrived at this moment because President Trump has been on a remarkable two-week temper tantrum,” Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said this week.
Congress met Thursday to try to broker a solution, but didn’t reach an agreement. Lawmakers won’t reconvene until Monday, the last day of 2018.
Some credit unions are offering loans for federal employees facing financial uncertainty. FedChoice Federal Credit Union is offering low-interest loans, skipped payments and waived fees. USAA Bank sent relief information to federal workers it believes are being affected, and Navy Federal Credit Union offers a relief program with zero-interest loans.
“Our members deserve peace of mind during a government shutdown, and eligible members can register to get some relief,” Navy Federal Senior Vice President Tynika Wilson said in a statement. “Public service is a defining characteristic of our membership and this is the right thing to do.”